The border crossing between South Africa and Swaziland went surprisingly good. Within twenty minutes we had a couple of extra stamps in our passports and were on the other side of the border. Due to the fact that diesel is 2,5 Rand cheaper (per liter) in Swaziland we decided to fill up our tank with about 130 (!) liters.
Because it does take a while before 130 liter of diesel is in your tank I often have a nice (and long) chat with the ‘pump guy or girl’. This guy immediately started talking about Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder. I’m curious if we’ll have this same conversation about de Ligt in ten years time. In the quest for a football shirt of the national team of Swaziland we stopped in the capital city of Mbabane. While we didn’t find a sports shop over there we had a great lunch.
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Mlilwane part 1: plains and mountains
The Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary isn’t your average game park. Due to the absence of large predators (except for the leopard) you’re allowed to walk and bike everywhere. We also didn’t have to pay a conservation fee since we were in the possession of a Wild Card. Therefore we only payed for two nights of camping, that’s not too bad is it?
After passing the gate we were surprised by the vast green plains set against some beautiful green mountains. Kind of like a proper African painting. After driving around in quite a dry Northern part of South Africa it was a pleasant thing to see. Shortly after our arrival we saw a Blesbuck, an antelope that we hadn’t seen before.
The campsite itself was perhaps the cleanest and well maintained site ever. Our spot overlooking the mountains was a bonus as well, what a lovely place!
Mlilwane part 2: the Machobane trail
As said before you’re allowed to freely stroll around the park. There are a number of hikes that you can take to check out the best places of the sanctuary. Since we thought that the Hippo trail (which follows the surroundings of the camp) was a bit too ‘standard/easy’ we had to take a more difficult trail which was the Machobane trail.
To get to the starting point of the hike we had to take a 4×4 route over the mountains. After a couple of kilometers we arrived at a bit of an open sport where we could park our car. There was a little sign before some bushes that did really mark that this was the starting point.
After about 100 metres in we found out that this wasn’t an easy hike. We had to crawl under some rocks, pass little bridges, climb up ladders and stroll through the high grass up the mountain. In the next three kilometers or so we found out that the 6,5km on the map was only one way. Therefore we decided to wander off this route and make our own hike to another top. At the highest point we sat down and enjoyed the spectacular view of Swaziland. I did this with a pack of Romany Creams Classic Choc cookies (hallelujah) and Jolene with an apple (#sohealthy).
Mlilwane part 3: wildlife on the campsite
The rest of the afternoon we were merely busy with recovering from the hike and enjoying the view. Therefore it was dead easy to, after a lovely pancakes and wine valentine’s day diner, fall asleep that night. At 1.21AM we heard a lot of noise just outside of our rooftop tent. Bathing in the moonlight there were about 15 zebra’s admiring our tent and scrubbing their backs on a nearby tree.
When we woke up the next morning we saw a number of impalas had also visited our place. All this was about to be complemented with a warthog family visiting the campsite while we were doing some photo editing. The ‘big mama’ stepped over my laptop charger and smelled if the coffee was ready to drink. The kiddies were mainly interested in our car and bended their front legs to see if there was anything to eat underneath the car.
We had a great time staying at Mlilwane. The landscape is absolutely marvellous all the hikes and bike trails it’s definitely worth it to visit Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.